Ever since Whiskydudes made its debut on the Dutch whisky scene, their stream of new releases has been steady, often carefully (and skillfully) re-racked. Whiskydudes’ Summer 2023 Release is another exercise in single malt (or grain) that’s been finished. Either in Tawny or Ruby Port casks, or Amontillado or PX sherry casks.
Interestingly, some are sister casks of previous releases, as Edwin, co-founder and owner of Whiskydudes, often re-racks larger casks into smaller quarter casks or octaves. Remember the flurryofStaoisha he released previously? Well, below you’ll find reviews of siblings to a Strathmill and Glenrothes that have featured on these pages earlier.
Strathmill 2011 12 Years (56%, Whiskydudes, C#800467A)
Initial maturation in a refill hogshead followed by 2 years in a fresh Tawny Port quarter cask. Sister cask of this Strathmill.
Nose: Sweet floral notes with a good amount of golden syrup, dark caramel, apple compote with cinnamon, a sliver of quince and ripe nectarines. I’m also reminded of the plums from my parents’ garden, accompanied by a touch of oregano and fried bay leaves. Taste: Syrupy touches of pollen, beeswax and honey, as well as a hint of citron liqueur. Also a good amount of sultanas, a whisper of grape must, and a decent pinch of pepper. Then some ginger and walnut skins. Slightly dry, but manageable. Finish: Medium length. Sweet fruits with some oak spices lingering in the background.
Some rougher edges remain on the palate, but overall I find this a good step up from Whiskydudes’ previous Strathmill release. The Tawny Port influence is present but never overpowering, adding much-needed sweetness to what I presume is a somewhat austere base spirit.
Glenrothes 2009 13 Years (63.9%, Whiskydudes, C#8965A)
Initial maturation in a refill hogshead followed by 23 months in a fresh Pedro Ximénez quarter cask. Sister cask of this Glenrothes.
Nose: Very Pedro Ximénez forward, but balanced, which is tricky to accomplish. Notes of cocoa powder, chocolate truffles and praline, as well as a touch of mocha and nougat. Maybe even some marzipan. Also intense dark fruits, such as prunes, cherry syrup, and figs. Finally, a surprising whiff of elderflower, which adds a welcome fresher element. Taste: Big bready notes with a good amount of sweet breakfast cereal, yet also plenty of chocolate, Werther’s Original and fudge. A few raisins too, as well as touches of star anise, burnt toast and almonds. Finally a whiff of leather. Finish: Medium to long. Dry. Some aniseed, gentle oak spices and tobacco, but also a candy-esque sweetness.
Needs a little time in the glass. After all, it is bottled at almost 64%. But it certainly delivers. A powerhouse of a whisky that performs remarkably well at cask strength.
Girvan 1991 31 Years (53.5%, Whiskydudes, C#54697)
Initial maturation in a refill hogshead followed by 20 months in a fresh Amontillado quarter cask.
Nose: The grain influence is strong and can’t say I immediately pick up on the Amontillado influence. (But I also don’t have a vast experience with Amontillado.) A good amount of trademark wood glue and zesty oranges. Also a whisper of teak, furniture polish, and a touch of Maraschino cherries. There’s some room left for blackcurrants, dark caramel and honey too, as well as just a touch of sandalwood and resin. Taste: A nice balance between charred oak, cumin, coffee grounds and allspice, as well as a syrupy fruitiness such as orange liqueur, cassis, and cherries. There’s even a hint of crushed mint leaves along the way. Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate. Finish: Medium length. Tart fruits, old oak and meringues.
Undeniably good, with a depth of flavour that is very enticing. Regular readers will know that grain whisky usually isn’t my preferred style, but I’ll gladly make an exception for this Girvan.
Benrinnes 2012 10 Years (57.6%, Whiskydudes, C#313802B)
Initial maturation in a refill hogshead followed by 13 months in a fresh Ruby Port quarter cask.
Nose: An opening salvo of strawberry jam and raspberry ice cream, as well as a touch of cherry syrup. Some jammy apricots too. There’s a pinch of cinnamon, accompanied by red apples and plums. A hint of brown sugar and cedarwood, but luckily no disturbing winey notes. Taste: Very much a continuation of the nose. Vibrant red berries and fresh fruits, but with some gentle spices added to the mix. There’s a peppery edge alongside some cloves. Also a soft bitterness and touches of eucalyptus. Finish: Medium length. Dry too. Candied oranges, cough syrup and tobacco.
The differences between the Tawny Port finished Strathmill and the Ruby Port finished Benrinnes are striking. Not necessarily surprising, but it’s always fun and educational to taste finishes like these side by side. I think this Benrinnes is good, albeit somewhat dry and spicy at times, the vibrant fruits notwithstanding.
Highland Park 2017 5 Years (55%, Whiskydudes, C#52)
Initial maturation in a refill hogshead followed by 18 months in a fresh Amontillado quarter cask.
Nose: Hints of burnt heather, soft touches of honey and a whisper of beech smoke, but also some surprising whiffs of rose petals. Gentle notes of freshly kilned barley, stewed apples and old books, as well as a hint of wet soil, raisins and cinnamon. Taste: Fatty mouthfeel with hints of ashes, peanut skins and damp oak, as well as a pinch of cracked black peppercorn and earthy peat. Some soft molasses, powdered sugar and red berries too. Finish: Medium length. Hints of fudge and bitter chocolate, accompanied by forest fruits.
Very elegant, even more so considering its age. There's some youthfulness in here, but overall a whisky that belies its age. Good stuff. Also, I can't remember the last time I've seen a Highland Park that was actually bottled as such, and not just another Secret Orkney.